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Spiritual Soldiers


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i read this on another site, i think it is by a gora not sure, but its a good read :D

The way of life of the Nihang Singhs in Punjab

"Warriors fight for God against their own ego,

soldiers for whoever is paying them"

Many young Punjabi Sikhs no longer consider the traditional turban and beard to be practical, let alone fashionable. Influenced by their film, television and rock musician heroes, they are rejecting the most recognisable symbols of their faith. Cutting their hair and shaving makes them virtually indistinguishable from their Hindu neighbours. However, in this tercentenary year, there remains a group of Sikhs, young and old, who still embody the true ideals of their religion.

The Nihang Singhs are instantly recognisable. Their distinctive blue dress, uniquely shaped turbans and their martial appearance stand out in a land already brimming with colour and idiosyncrasy. Often powerfully built, they walk with a natural swagger and an air of self-confidence which demand attention. They are uncompromising in their devotion and deeply committed to a tradition that evolved three centuries ago.

Then, Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th and last living Sikh Guru, taught his disparate band of followers the art of worship and warfare. Faced with treacherous neighbouring tribes and a Mogul overlord, who were intent on destroying this nascent faith, the Sikhs under his leadership became skilled and fearsome fighters. He laid the foundations of an army which, many years later, was to be described by a British Governor-General as "our bravest and most warlike and most disruptive enemy in Asia". Gobind Singh's devoted soldiers fought only for the Guru and not for enrichment, the love of conquest, or for power. Success on the battlefield merely ensured the survival of the faith, nothing more.

The Nihang Singhs of today, who live in deras (camps), maintain the concepts and traditions of the Spiritual Warrior as closely now as the modern world allows. Their routine begins two and a half hours before sunrise when a recitation from the Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Book) and prayers are relayed from the Gurdwara (temple) throughout the compound by a loudspeaker. This early morning call is followed by Kirtan (sacred music), performed by harmonium and tabla players. As dawn breaks the dera slowly comes to life. The Nihangs first wash themselves in cold water before beginning their daily tasks. The tea is brewed, the kitchen fires lit, the horses exercised, fed and groomed and the fields attended to.

The decision to become a Nihang is a very personal one, although often it is influenced by a desire to continue a family tradition. Sometimes Sikh parents with a number of sons will give one to a Nihang chief to be brought up in his dera until he is married. Some see being a spiritual warrior purely as a vocation while others take the step in order to seek forgiveness for past mistakes. Each one is on his own spiritual path, each recognising this in his colleague. They are comrades in arms.

There is no special initiation. Any Sikh who has taken Amrit (been baptised) may become a Nihang. To accept the calling is to acknowledge one's own journey; the blue dress is put on, the commitment is made, there is no turning back. Many remain in their chosen trade or profession but some walk away from their previous lives for one of quiet contemplation and selfless service. In a rapidly changing world, where old ways are disappearing, the Nihang Singhs' way of life offers us a rare example of the survival of an inspiring tradition.

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